Scaffolding student learning with lecture capture.

Professor Janet Boddy

For this post, Tab Betts (Technology Enhanced Learning) spoke to Professor Janet Boddy (Education) about her experience of using lecture capture in her teaching at the University of Sussex.

Listen here to what Janet had to say about how lecture capture helps her and her students.

How can recorded lectures support student learning?

Janet sees recorded lectures as part of the scaffolding for her students’ learning – especially students who might have difficulty making good notes during a ‘live’ lecture. The ability to listen again to key points in a lecture and develop notes is a significant benefit of lecture capture. Read more ›

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Posted in Study Direct, Technology Enhanced Learning

Technology Rich Formative Assessment

"The Question" flickr photo by The Digital Story <a href=""></a> shared under a <a href="">Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license</a>

“The Question” flickr photo by The Digital Story shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

From Poll Everywhere to Socrative to Google Forms, there is a huge range of tools available for formative assessment both in and out of face-to-face teaching hours. These methods of formative assessment can be extremely useful to gauge students’ understanding, test key concepts and provide students with valuable feedback which they can then actively feed forward into future assessments. With such a large number of different tools available, these formative assessment approaches also enable us to diversify our approaches to assessment, providing students with a greater variety of assessment methods.

Recently the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team were pleased to host a visit by Mark Glynn and Lisa Donaldson from the Teaching Enhancement Unit at Dublin City University. As part of the TEL Seminar Series, Lisa delivered a ‘Technology Rich Formative Assessment Experiences Masterclass’ to Sussex staff, introducing a wide range of different apps and approaches that can be used for formative assessment.


Lisa Donaldson leading the masterclass

Lisa Donaldson leading the masterclass

Interactive presentation tools

During the masterclass Lisa used a web based presentation tool called Zeetings to deliver the content of her presentation to participants. This tool allows audience members to view and interact with a presentation from their own mobile device, and as participants connect using a URL, Zeetings works on any web-enabled device. When using Zeetings, each time you advance onto a new slide this is mirrored on participants’ devices, you can then embed various quiz questions and polls into these slides to gain feedback from or test your students. Zeetings also has a useful Q&A space running alongside your presentation which works as a backchannel allowing students to easily ask questions during the session. These questions can then be answered live during your lecture or seminar, collected after your teaching session and answers posted on your VLE, or you could encourage your students to rely to each others’ posts.

Alternatively you could use Nearpod, a similar tool which lets you import your PowerPoint presentations. You can then develop your presentation by embedding questions including multiple choice, open ended questions and ‘Draw it’, a whiteboard on which students can send in their drawings and annotations.

Quizzing tools

There are many quizzing and polling tools available that you can use with your students, below are the tools presented by Lisa as well as additional apps that the TEL team enjoy using.

Formative – Free for teachers and students, this tool allows students to type or draw their responses to questions. Teaching staff can then provide instant feedback to these responses.

Google Forms – Google’s surveying tool, Google Forms allows you to present a series of multiple choice and open ended questions to students which they can then complete in their own time.

Kahoot – A game based classroom response system with a competitive element. This app allows you to create online quizzes that students interact with using their mobile device without needing to sign up for an account.

Mentimeter – Engage your students with in class voting. Students responses can be displayed in real time allowing you to discuss the results as they happen.

Plickers – A quizzing/polling tool that doesn’t require participants to use individual apps or computers. Quickly ask multiple-choice questions to groups of up to 63 and collect answers in real time.

PollEverywhere – Students can vote by text, Twitter, web browser, or via the mobile apps. Sussex has an institutional licence for this tool giving us access to a range of useful features, if you are interested in using Poll Everywhere please contact

Quizizz – A free multiplayer classroom activity which works on all internet enabled devices and allows student to work collaboratively.

Socrative – Create an online tests for students which include multiple choice, true/false, or short answer questions. This tool also has a gamified ‘Space Race’ option which lets students work in teams.

Interactive multimedia tools

As well as the many formative quizzing tools available, increasingly we are seeing ways in which we can integrate the use of different media into teaching sessions, specifically the use of interactive video. Below are two different tools which can help you communicate with and engage your students using video.

Vizia – This free tool allows you to take a video and embed questions and multiple choice quizzes at various points in the clip to create interactive engaging videos for your students.

Recap – Increase communication between yourself and your students using this video reflection and response tool. The creation of short video clips allows students to share their thoughts and ideas allowing them to reflect on their learning.

Learn more…

Visit Lisa’s Padlet wall to view all of the tools presented during her session as well as our A-Z of Apps which can be a useful resource to help you discover other tools to use with your students. If you would like more information about any of these formative assessment tools contact your school’s Learning Technologist by emailing


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Posted in App review, External events, Marking and assessment, Polling tools

Enhanced Analytics in Mahara

“Tape Measure” by Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence

The reporting capabilities within the leading open source eportfolio solution Mahara will be fundamentally enhanced in a future release as a result of a project led by the University of Sussex and Dublin City University (DCU).  The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund makes funding available to universities to stimulate innovation in practice across the HE sector and the development of innovative solutions.  Supported by the Catalyst Fund, the Advanced Analytics in Mahara project ( aims to provide more fine grained insights into how portfolios are used over time, and how learners engage with them with a view to supporting evidence-informed use across disciplines in the future. Read more ›

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Posted in Mahara

Empowering learners through inclusive, cross-disciplinary projects – Podcast Episode 9

How can we empower students to become creators of meaningful content? How can we promote interdisciplinarity, inclusive learning and digital skills development?

In this episode, we interview Dan Axson, who is the ICT Coordinator at St. John’s School and College in Brighton. St. John’s is a special educational needs (SEN) school and specialist college that provides education, care and medical therapy to young people aged 7 to 25. The discussion in this episode focuses on how Dan and his colleagues at St John’s have used inclusive teaching methods and technology to empower learners as creators. We talk about how technology can promote inclusive learning with apps such as Book Creator, how teachers can engage learners with inclusive, cross-disciplinary projects and how a technology-enhanced interactive theatre space is being used to create something extraordinary called The Jumblies Project (inspired by Edward Lear’s poem: The Jumblies).

Dan Axson
St. John’s School and College
Book Creator
The Jumblies Project
‘The Jumblies’ poem by Edward Lear
Donate to the Jumblies Project


Dan Axson:

Dan Axson

St. John’s School and College:

The OptiMusic-enhanced theatre at St. John’s School and College:

Handheld reflector used to break the coloured light beams, which in turn triggers sound effects or music:

Interactive floor which animates as you step on it:

Software used for controlling the OptiMusic technology:

Video of Dan Axson demonstrating the OptiMusic-enhanced theatre space at St. John’s.

Trailer for The Jumblies Project:


Posted in Accessibility, Podcast

MUGSE at Sussex, April 25th 2017

In a previous post, Antony Coombs wrote about ‘Portfolios, assessment and Mahara at Sussex’ outlining how the Mahara e-portfolio system has been introduced at the University.

We are now pleased to be hosting the spring meeting of the Mahara Users Group Southern England (MUGSE) on 25th April 2017.

All users of Mahara are welcome and there is no charge to attend, but numbers are limited so please book a place.

What is planned for the meeting?

The day will begin with coffee and networking from 11am, move on to presentations and discussions from noon, and finish at 3.30pm. A sandwich lunch is very kindly being provided by Catalyst.

We already have some presenters lined up:

  • Antony Coombs (University of Sussex) will present an overview of the HEFCE-funded Advanced Analytics project.
  • Members of the eLearning team from the University of Brighton will discuss their work with Mahara. Including: supporting nursing revalidation ePortfolios, work-based competencies and other applications.
  • Joey Murison from Catalyst will give an overview of the 17.04 platform and discuss other projects underway.

There are also opportunities for participants to share with the group in either a 5-minute lightning talk or a short (15 minutes) presentation.

Book your place now

Please complete this short form to book a place and let us know if you want to offer a presentation.

We look forward to welcoming the MUGSE community to Sussex.


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Posted in External events, Mahara, Marking and assessment, Technology Enhanced Learning

Electronic submission and feedback at Sussex – the story so far

Infinite Loop by Faruk Ateş

Infinite Loop” by Faruk Ateş, used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 licence (Original cropped and retouched)

This summer will see the graduation of the first student cohort to have experienced electronic submission and feedback throughout their time studying at Sussex. To mark this significant milestone, this blog post reflects on the story so far.

Starting in 2014, members of staff from across many Schools and Professional Services have been working on the University’s e-submission and e-feedback (ESEF) project. This is a major university-wide initiative, delivering a step change in the systems and processes supporting assessment, marking and feedback. Formed as an active response to messages coming from students through the National Student Survey (NSS) and Students’ Union, the project recognised the need to transform and improve the quality and methods used for assessment and feedback. Three years later, Sussex is one of only a few universities1 to have established a fully automated end-to-end solution to facilitate the submission of student work, tutor marking, moderation of work (internal and external) and return of feedback. Read more ›

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Posted in Marking and assessment, Study Direct

Developing students’ discipline-specific vocabulary.

Every discipline has its own specialist terms and concepts. As students progress in their studies they learn the relevant language, but when they begin their studies there are lots of words that they are unsure about. Developing students’ fluency in the language associated with their discipline will put them in a better position to understand course materials and discussions and to express themselves in writing, so it is well worth introducing some activities to scaffold that aspect of their learning.

"Shakespeare's words" flickr photo by Calamity Meg shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

“Shakespeare’s words” flickr photo by Calamity Meg shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Some ideas for using learning technologies to develop vocabulary.

  • Polling vocabulary and key concepts. You can check understanding of key concepts in lecture settings using response systems such as Poll Everywhere. This could be by asking students which terms they feel confident about, or testing them on the definition of a new concept introduced in the previous lecture.
  • Flashcards. There are a number of mobile apps and online tools for creating flashcards (such as StudyBlue and Quizlet). Students could research key terms and create cards before a seminar then test each other.
  • Sorting activities on the SMARTboard. Using an interactive whiteboard, list terms or concepts and definitions that can be moved around and matched up.  
  • Online quizzes. A Study Direct quiz with multiple choice or true/false questions could be used to let students test their understanding of key terms.

Read more ›

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Posted in Learning Design, Polling tools, Study Direct

Gamification using Poll Everywhere’s Segmented Responses

Gamification in education is a pedagogical approach in which elements of games are incorporated into teaching sessions and/or online delivery, with the aim of increasing student engagement. This could be achieved by introducing a competitive element (through, for example, the use of teams), by incorporating the idea that students can ‘level up’ by achieving certain milestones or aims, or by including elements of video games.

"wordle_03" flickr photo by 4RealRose shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

“wordle_03” flickr photo by 4RealRose shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

One way to start incorporating gamification into your teaching sessions could be to use the ‘segment responses’ option in Poll Everywhere, the student response system used at Sussex. This option allows you to pose an initial question to your students, for example ‘Which team are you in?’. Answering this question then assigns students to a certain team, so students who answered A will be assigned to Team A while students who answered B will be assigned to Team B. Poll Everywhere then tracks the responses to the questions that follow, grouping the different teams’ responses and displaying charts of the answers, introducing a competitive element between the teams which can encourage students to engage with the activity and respond to each question. Poll Everywhere have made a useful step-by-step video which takes you through the process of setting up your polls, gathering responses and generating reports. Read more ›

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Posted in App review, Mobile learning, Polling tools

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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